Every summer we encounter a fascinating collection of people with different stories to tell and experiences to share. Amanda Phillipson came to Peligoni in 2011 and has since joined her friend Zoe Gibson in building Peachy Belts – a collection of super stylish leather belts with detachable buckles. We caught up with Amanda and Zoe to find out how it all began, summer style and more…
Amanda, how did you come to be involved with Peachy Belts?
Amanda: My youngest child was starting senior school and having previously worked in marketing, I wanted to do something outside of the family. A friend introduced me to Zoe at a time when she was growing the business, so I now help in all areas from sales, admin, PR , box packer etc etc.
When did you first come to Peligoni?
Amanda: We came in 2011. Funnily enough we booked our holiday to Peligoni, only to find that some local friends had also booked for the same summer. It suited us perfectly with our 3 children’s age range at the time from 8 to 14, where we wanted a busy holiday that we could do things together, relax and enjoy the setting, as well as give everyone some freedom.
What are the ingredients of a fabulous family holiday?
Amanda: Lovely weather, lovely location, lots for everyone to do – if they want to – and of course delicious food.
What are the golden rules for style on holiday?
Amanda: I think keep it simple, cool and sophisticated colours, nothing over fussy or too bright – comfortable and practical and a few good bikinis to wear under a sun dress or top so that you can make the most of the sunshine!
With swimsuits, kaftans and sun hats to consider, many people don’t place belts in the mix when it comes to a holiday wardrobe? What makes a belt a must-have on your travels?
Amanda: Trousers and jeans are completely unfinished with empty belt loops! A belt is such a key accessory and, apart from the essential function of stopping your trousers slipping down, and giving that rather unsightly baggy bottom look – they finish an outfit off. With the detachable buckle option that Peachy Belt provides it means you only need take a couple of different belt band colours and 2 or 3 different buckles to provide many different looks – so good for travelling light too.
How does the team at Peachy Belts keep the collections exciting and new? What goes on behind the design process?
Zoe: I am endlessly inspired by the fabulous leathers I see in Italy each year and trawl through top bag and jewellery designers to see what skins they are using and how they mix their colours and textures. Cowhide skins (often called pony skin) offer great texture and the embossed prints such as ostrich and croc are hugely popular as they are more interesting than a plain leather belt. I tend to come up with more buckle designs each season than we can make – and many come from customer ideas and suggestions – the key function is that they must be comfortable and practical to wear – a buckle needs to look good but if it does not work well, you will only wear it once! New colour finishes and the two tone buckles we have had in the last year have been hugely popular amongst people who wear both jewellery colours – which is many of us! The Swarovski crystal designs are hand made in Italy and I often send them shapes and pictures of buckles I would like created in diamante and then sit down with a box of stones when I visit them to see what colours work well together.
What made you decide to have the belts made in England?
Zoe: I found a fantastic family run belt manufacturer in Northamptonshire – the home of English leathercraft – who produce really beautiful belts – I wanted to be sure that every belt was perfect, and was not confident that getting belts made abroad would ensure this – although it could be cheaper. I wanted to be able to visit the factory regularly and speak with the people who make the belts, to see what issues they have with thicknesses of leather, stitching detail, yield on the skins and other issues. I cannot see the benefit of having the skins sent across the world to get the belts made a bit cheaper and then have them shipped back here – we have such a glut of talent for manufacturing here in England – lets use it!
You also make belts for men, how do these designs come about, do you test them out on relations/friends?
Zoe: I test EVERYTHING on friends and family! If any one of my family walk out of my door WITHOUT a belt they are in big trouble! I have about 10 friends who I run all my new designs past – who will be very frank about what they do and don’t like and if they feel the items are of value – they all come from different backgrounds so I end up with a good cross section of opinions. The belts I do for men have gone down very well, although I cannot do above about a size 48 as the shoulder leathers I tend to use are not long enough! Generally men will wear only the simple buckle that the belt comes with – they do not tend to be that adventurous – although we do encourage them – and the ‘Fully Loaded’ cartridge buckle has been a big hit amongst those who shoot.
What makes a stylish man on holiday?
Zoe: One who is comfortable in his own skin and is happy to show a bit of leg and body! Good linen shirts can look great on men and well cut casual shorts… linen in all things actually! Jackets, trousers, slightly crumpled… definitely a good men’s holiday look…
Do you have any advice to someone starting a new business?
Zoe: Have a serious passion for your product and use it yourself and love it – I am thinking about Peachy most of my time, watching what other belts people wear, coming up with ideas and designs for buckles – but it really is not work – I love it!
What’s next for the brand?
Zoe: Getting the name out there – we want to continue to provide a fun buying experience and a really top class range of belts and buckles. We will expand our online presence and sales and will possibly look to taking the brand to Europe. New widths and types of belts – our customers will tell us what they want and we are certainly very customer led. Quality and service must be maintained and improved – shopping should be fun!
See more from Peachy Belts here.